The London Bridal Show saw a big turnout from retailers across the UK and further afield with visitor numbers growing 10 per cent year-on-year.
The excellent attendance at this year’s exhibition indicated significant optimism in the industry, suggesting the market is in great shape right now. The event registered a 10 per cent increase in visitors compared to last year, with international buyers accounting for 25 per cent of the total, the increase coming most notably from France and Southern Ireland. Retailers were in shopping mode and keen to see the newest collections from some of the big names in the business, while spending time looking at what new and upcoming design houses had to offer.
Mark Lesley, who showed his eponymous labels alongside his designer bridal collection and occasionwear label Candy Quinn said the show was “brilliant”. He added: “Mark Lesley did wonderfully in terms of increased sales and new customers but Donna Salado was simply outstanding.”
Vikki McCarthy-Wright of Mooshki fame used this exhibition to launch the stunning new Grace Philips collection. “I cannot believe the reception this new collection has had. It was awesome,” she said.
Europe’s first buying event of the season gave out a clear signal that glamour dressing is leading the way, with daringly low backs, mermaid dresses with swishy tails, body-hugging silhouettes, and lace motifs on nude tulle creating a tattoo effect on the skin.
There was an astonishing array of ballgowns to choose from that will be perfect for brides who have always harboured that dream of being a fairy tale princess on their big day. Sumptuous dresses with whittled-down waists and voluminous skirts, some made of layer upon layer of tulle, organza, chiffon and lace, others in simple, elegant fabrics such as Mikado, skilfully sculpted to form the desired fullness were all on show.
Alongside the perennial laces there were jewelled and embroidered appliqués introducing a different surface texture, and wonderful jacquards with their own glorious patterning that needed little more than a beaded belt to make the right impressions.
In occasionwear, buyers were wooed and wowed with an amazing rainbow of colours and beautiful fabrics chosen for their drape-appeal, with a fair amount of sparkle to add to the red-carpet experience.
One feature of the show was the Monday seminars, run by experts for experts. Retailers attending got to hear first-hand about every area of the business and how they could improve their own operation by taking note of what others were doing. Everything from entering awards and dealing with difficult customers, to closing sales successfully and working with suppliers was covered and the buyers lapped up the information handed to them.
And of course, a key attraction at The London Bridal Show, as it is at Harrogate in September, is the programme of catwalk performances which saw some breathtakingly fresh collections stepping out and signalling the newest silhouettes for the season ahead. Always playing to a full house, it is this carefully-edited collection of collections that helps retailers pick up on trends early and see first-hand how expert styling introduces the perfect accessories for each look.